Tears of Joy

Simchat TorahThe Alon Shvut chapter of Bnei Akiva spent Simchat Torah in Ariel. The highly motivated youth came with the intention of enhancing the spirit of the day with the local community. They split up amongst various congregations in Ariel, they sang and they danced.

I must admit – at first I felt bad for the kids. They were clearly highly motivated, yet thank G-d there wasn’t much room for them to stand, let alone to dance in the synagogue where I daven. The place was packed, and although there’s always room for more people and more good Jewish fun, I was concerned the kids might get the sense that they came out to Ariel for naught.

As the evening proceeded, however, the stamina of the youth proved invaluable. When the adults got tired, the Bnei Akiva kids kept on going.

Indeed, the visiting youth were greatly appreciated. Although my synagogue has been fortunate enough to draw large numbers of energized idealistic families over the last few years, not all of the synagogues have been quite so fortunate. My wife mentioned to a women who davens in a congragation in an older neighborhood of Ariel that tens of Bnei Akiva visiting teens would be making their way over to sing and dance at their shul. The woman looked at my wife and began to cry.    

I myself witnessed some other tears this Simchat Torah. We were dancing outside with the Torahs when someone from our congregation started steering us around the side of the building. We were headed for the Sefardi minyan. Someone in the crowd started singing “Yachad Yachad” – and we went marching in. I got a glimpse of some of the regulars in the Sefardi minyan. I looked at one and I saw tears welling up in his eyes. I looked at another and I saw the same. Next thing I knew the same was happenning to me.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not because Sefardi and Ashkenazi Jews were singing and dancing together that everyone was so touched. That phenomenon is rather passe’ in Ariel – nothing new there. It seems to me the fact that it is passe’, the fact that it’s natural for us that different communities join together – that’s what was so touching on the holiday of Simchat Torah- one People, one Torah – it just felt right.          

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